Microsoft Jumps Into Security Market

The new Internet-based service is designed to bring under one roof antivirus, firewall, backup and recovery, and maintenance software. The company is reportedly releasing the product to test the reaction of potentially millions of consumers, as well as to gauge the acceptance of its longer-term strategy of selling software as a service.

Microsoft's approach to the market is based on two approaches, namely One-Care and an ad-driven Web site called Windows Live Safety Center, with the latter offering free virus cleanups. By working in tandem, company officials hope the two approaches will allow PC maintenance to work much like maintenance of a car.

Microsoft is hopeful the new service will address the virus concerns of many of its users, but that it will also fix a number of other complaints users have had about its products, including the fear of losing data, increasingly slower performance, and the ability to go to a centralized, "one-stop shop" for getting many of their problems fixed.

One-Care lets users manage a range of security and maintenance activities all from place. Because the new service is largely aimed at inexperienced users, Microsoft is bundling in phone and e-mail support.

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Microsoft officials hope to sign up at least 15,000 users for the first beta.